NOOYI’s Determination

As CEO and chairman of the board of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi leads a company with over 198,000 employees and over $43 billion in revenues. Pepsi-Cola, Fritos, Lay’s, Tropicana, Gatorade, Quaker, Doritos, and Mountain Dew are among PepsiCo’s brands known the world over.1 Nooyi’s conscientiousness, determination, selfdiscipline, openness to new ideas, sociability, and affectionate nature have been with her throughout her impressive career. And her career has certainly been impressive. She has been included in Time magazine’s list of “The World’s Most Influential People” and has been ranked the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine for 3 years in a row.2 Nooyi was born and raised in India. From an early age, her openness to new experiences was evident—not only did she participate in debate and play cricket, but she also learned how to play the guitar and had her own all-girl rock band.3 She earned a BS from Madras Christian College, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, and a Master of Public and Private Management from Yale University.4 Her determination and openness to new experiences lead her to obtain a variety of leadership positions before assuming the top post at Pepsi. She started off her career in India as a project manager for Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Bearsell, Ltd.5 In the United States, she managed global strategy projects for The Boston Consulting Group and was Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning for Motorola. Prior to joining PepsiCo in 1994, she was Senior Vice President of Strategy and Strategic Marketing for Asea Brown Boveri, and she held a variety of senior leadership positions at Pepsi before assuming the top post.6 Nooyi’s originality is reflected in her vision for PepsiCo—“Performance with Purpose”—which embodies a commitment to nourishing, tasty, and healthy foods, a commitment to protect the natural environment, and a commitment to the well-being and development of PepsiCo’s employees.7 On her watch, PepsiCo has increased the portion of its products that can be considered to be healthy to eat such as grains, nuts, and fruits, increased the varieties of staple products like potato chips and orange juice, and acquired or partnered with a wide variety of food products companies such as a hummus producer in Israel and a nut packager in Bulgaria.8 While leading PepsiCo in new and innovative directions, Nooyi’s determination, persistence, hard work, and self-discipline help to ensure that new initiatives are successful. She sets very high standards for herself and her employees and persistently encourages employees to solve difficult problems. When she reviews projects and proposals, they are heavily marked up with all sorts of comments aimed at improvements. When subordinates approach her with a problem, she pushes them to persist and come up with a viable solution.9 While very conscientious and open to new approaches, Nooyi also is very sociable and affectionate. She has dinner parties for members of her top management team and their partners and encourages their partners to ask her any questions that might be on their minds. She is down-to-earth, sincere, and genuine in her interactions with employees, sings at some company gatherings, and celebrates employees’ birthdays with a cake.10 In fact, when PepsiCo’s Board of Directors chose Nooyi to become CEO over the other contender for the top post, Michael White, Nooyi went to great lengths to ensure that her great relationship with White would not be hurt.11 White was vacationing in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at the time and Nooyi flew to Cape Cod where the two strolled the beach, ate ice cream, and made some music together (White playing the piano and Nooyi sang). Not only did Nooyi want to preserve their friendship, she also wanted to continue to have White’s support and advice and have him stay with PepsiCo as a member of her team. Showing her affection and admiration for White at a gathering announcing her appointment to the top post, Nooyi said, “I treat Mike as my partner. He could easily have been CEO.”12 All in all, Nooyi’s determination and conscientiousness, coupled with an openness to new experiences and approaches and an affectionate and sociable nature have served her well throughout her career and as CEO and chairman of PepsiCo.


1. For each of the big five personality traits how would you rate Nooyi on the trait? (1-10 scale). Please discuss the evidence from the case in support of the answer

2. Which personality trait is related to job satisfaction?

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